B lind Pig at Eastlake Teriyaki is the kind of place that the Seattle Times calls "a welcome addition to the neighborhood." And it's true—BPET is an addition, insofar as the Blind Pig Bistro took over the teriyaki place next door, and while the sign still reads "EASTLAKE TERIYAKI," they're making not only teriyaki but sandwiches, soups, vegetable sides, kimchi fried rice, and daily specials. Additions have been made! And it's welcome, insofar as what was a just-okay teriyaki place now has the aforementioned additions (though some people probably do not welcome the teriyaki's new price of $9.50, like the older woman who came in looking tired with paint all over her clothes, asked if they still had teriyaki, received an answer I couldn't hear, then walked back out, still looking tired and without any food). And it is definitely in a neighborhood—namely Eastlake, which is also a neighborhood with a dearth of food options, so any addition is, indeed, welcome.
But the "welcome addition" thing is euphemistic. It means: Sure, if you live or work nearby, you're happy to have another lunch option or a place to pick up something quick on a cold night. But if it's not in your neighborhood, well, carry on.
You'd be forgiven for having greater expectations for Blind Pig at Eastlake Teriyaki. The Blind Pig Bistro, open for two years now, occupies the space where Sitka & Spruce used to be, and chef/owner Charles Walpole has carried forth the local, seasonal, unfussy-but-always-interesting ideal with very tasty results. The sourcing for the regular Pig and next door are the same—while the painting woman might not want to pay $9.50 for her teriyaki, the chicken is from Draper Valley Farms, so it's humanely raised, vegetarian fed, and antibiotic-free, which your $5.99 teriyaki special isn't going to be.
And the teriyaki is... good. The skin is burnished and crackly-glossy, the meat is not dry, and it's an identifiable section of a whole bird, bone still in, instead of bits and pieces. The order I had could've used more teriyaki sauce, in order to hit that chicken-and-syrup sweet spot that makes you crave teriyaki every so often.
The sandwiches are... okay. A pork belly cemita ($7.50)—a Mexican sandwich with red chili sauce, grilled onion, and a lot of mild, melted Oaxacan cheese—was rich and pliant on its squishy Macrina sesame seed bun, but didn't have much porky or chili flavor. A falafel sandwich ($6.50) was on a thicker Macrina potato roll, and the bread dominated, which was too bad; the falafel was nutty and toasty-tasting on its own, and the yogurt and tahini sauce had bits of fresh herbs and not too much red onion. A thin, panko-breaded fish fillet ($8.50) was even more overpowered by the potato roll; the fish needed to be twice as thick, the pineapple mustard wasn't very pineappley, and the cabbage and green apple slaw was scanty.
Only the sloppy joe ($7.50) was a sandwich to go out of your way for: Piled high, with the classic sloppy joe taste augmented with pickled Fresno chili and crunchy tempura onions, it had an appropriate amount of orange grease on the bottom, and the Macrina sesame seed bun held up to the meat assault. I shared this sandwich with Stranger books editor and sandwich expert Paul Constant, who said, "My favorite part of a sloppy joe is eating the little bits of meat that fall to the side after the sandwich is done—any excuse to shove meat in my mouth by hand—and there was plenty of that here... I'm a fan of homemade sloppy joes every once in a while, but I've never thought to pay money for a sloppy joe at a restaurant. This one, I'd actually pay for."
Paul also tried one day's pork taquito special ($7.50), and we agreed that they were just average. "It's just a taquito," he said. "If you were high, this would be amazing. But then, any taquito would be amazing if you were high." We both liked the especially creamy, extra limey guacamole, though, and I kind of bogarted the refried beans, which were clearly homemade—pleasingly only semi-mashed, well salted, tasting like high-quality lard.
The vegetable dishes at the Blind Pig Bistro are, in my experience, particularly great, but the ones next door didn't stand out ($3 each). Roasted beets had a little creamy horseradish, which nicely brought out the sweet of the beets; braised collards had the right tang and texture, not falling apart but not tough, and their cup contained ample buttery, drinkable broth. A potato salad, though, was just all right—same with miso broccoli and a quinoa salad.
They haven't done much with the interior of the place—it's kind of comically bare bones, with the lowered ceiling and paneled lighting of the teriyaki place remaining, and the paint job is violently red and black. One lunchtime, doom metal played while the silent flat-screen TV showed Betty Boop cartoons, which went surprisingly well together. Lunch was all right.